Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ube and Ito Shimai

Hey everyone!
You guessed it....I transfered! 

Frolicking in the countryside. The house behind us is piglet grandma`s
It was sooo hard to say goodbye to my companion and the members and people I taught in Fukuoka! I practically bawled my eyes out when the Oyama family, with newly baptized Kunio Kyodai, Yuto and Shintaro, and all the cute kids who I taught Eikaiwa every week drove away from the church on Wednesday night after saying our last goodbyes. However, for some reason I do feel strongly that I will return to Fukuoka ward again someday, so it wasn`t my last goodbye there. I boarded a bus on Thursday morning in the middle of a snowstorm and took a four hour busride to the middle of the countryside to an area called....UBE! 
Me and Ito Shimai!
I am now serving in Ube with Sister Ito!! She is definitely the funniest companion that I have had so far. Shes turning 25 at the end of this month and has the spunkiest, cutest personality ever. Before coming on a mission she worked at a daycare center for children with disabilities, and is an amazing cook so we`ve been having fun cooking together.
Snowy countryside of Ube
Ube is an area East of Fukuoka in Yamaguchi prefecture. It is way inaka, or in the countryside. Its my first time serving in a small area! We have a branch of about sixty members and they are all incredibly nice and friendly. The first night that I arrived we had all of these phone calls come in asking me if I was OK and not freezing to death, because apparently a member from Fukuoka who`s best friend is in the Ube branch called and told him that I get very cold at night and have trouble sleeping (which is true, haha). So a member named Fujisaki Shimai brought me over a Yutampo or a jug that you fill with hot water and sleep with. Also, yesterday in the bin that the members fill with food for the missionaries every fast Sunday we received about ten packs of hand and feet warmers, haha! So you can tell just from all of that that these members are super warm and welcoming and willing to help the missionaries with anything. Within that first day I already had a super strong desire to get right to work and find those here in Ube who are waiting for the gospel, so that we can help this little branch grow.
On Thursday Ito Shimai spent all day long telling me about all of the investigators in this area and planning for the next week. We are teaching a Vietnemese family of four who have a baptism date set for March 3rd, but I haven`t met them yet so please pray that when I do things will click and they`ll be able to transition to having a new missionary teach them. :)
On Friday was a special Japanese holiday called Setsubun, which is basically where you throw beans all over your house to cast out oni, or evil spirits that might be living there. We didn`t even realize it was a holiday until we met a woman on the street who told us she had just come from a close by temple where they were holding a festival-type thing. We decided to go check it out and amidst a giant bonfire, a guy standing on a crate with a devil mask on singing old-time karaoke tunes, and taste testing a delicious bean drink called `Daizu-chya` we were able to talk to two grandmas for a good while about the gospel. One of them was practically blind and kept making us take pictures with her cell phone of us together. She said that even though she couldn`t see the pictures it made her feel good to know she had them. So cute.
Me with the oni
Saturday we biked for about an hour until we were literally in the middle of rice fields to visit a ninety year old woman who hasn`t been coming to church for a year or two. She was the cutest old lady ever! Remember in Winnie the Pooh when theres that huge flood and someone`s house gets destroyed, so Eeyore says that they should live in Piglet`s house? And Piglet stands there stuttering and wringing his/her hands saying, `well, I guess its a very nice house. I always liked it...`? Sorry that is so random, but that is exactly what this grandma reminded me of! She looks and acts exactly like piglet. When I mentioned that to Ito Shimai she burst into laughter and said, `Oh my gosh, you`re right!` Haha. She wouldn`t let me take a picture of her this time, though, haha.  
I just found a picture I secretly took of piglet!
Anyway, hopefully from these stories you can get a feel of what my new area is like.  I can`t tell you how happy I felt when we were riding out in the middle of the countryside of Japan! Just pure heaven. Also, every person we pass on the street smiles and says, `konichiwa!!` Such a quaint(sp?) little place. I`m sure I`ll have many stories to come! 
Goodbye Tagawa Shimai :((((
Please pray for me this week as I meet the investigators in this area for the first time that we`ll be able to connect and they`ll be able to feel my testimony and sincerity. 
Last district meeting in Fukuoka at the top of Fukuoka tower!
I love you all so much and hope you have a spledid week! 
Love, Tingey Shimai

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